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Health and Tech: ‘500 crore people unprotected from harmful effects of trans fats’

Report released by WHO highlights how vulnerable people are when it comes to issue of food safety

Published Date – 11:45 PM, Wed – 25 January 23

Health and Tech: ‘500 crore people unprotected from harmful effects of trans fats’
Report released by WHO highlights how vulnerable people are when it comes to issue of food safety

Hyderabad: A new status report released just a few days ago by World Health Organisation (WHO), which asserted that there are 500 crore people globally who are unprotected from the harmful effects of trans fats and are at direct risk of heart disease and death, has highlighted how vulnerable people are when it comes to the issue of food safety.

In its status report on trans fats, the WHO goes on to say that 43 countries across the world, including India, have implemented best-practice policies for tackling trans fat in food. However, despite the measures, there are 5 billion individuals across the globe at risk from the devastating health impacts.

The report goes on to point out that trans fat intake is responsible for up to 5,00,000 premature deaths from coronary heart disease each year around the world. According to a report from Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), globally eliminating industrially produced trans-fatty acids can save nearly 17 million (1.7 crore) in 25 years.

Trans fats, also commonly known as bad fats, are directly linked to the rise of bad cholesterol and reduction of good cholesterol in our body. Numerous studies worldwide have clearly indicated that trans fats are responsible for heart diseases, overweight, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and even some cancers.

So what are trans fats and in what form are they consumed?

For longer shelf life and maintaining the stability of flavours, the food industry has developed a technique called as hydrogenation, wherein hydrogen is added to oils that makes them more solid and spreadable. Thanks to the present day lifestyle and work environment, the dietary patterns and eating habits of individuals have shifted. As a result, hydrogenated oils or trans fats are literally in almost all major food items that are consumed including pre-packaged foods, frozen foods, fast food including fried food and desserts.

The major source of food items containing trans fats include vanaspati, margarine and bakery shortening. In India, a variety of foods are prepared using trans fats including sweets like Jalebi, Ladi etc, bakery products like cakes, patty, puff, cake, pastry etc.

According to FSSAI, re-heating cooking oils can lead to formation of small amounts of trans fats; not only at commercial outlets but even at household levels.

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